They Totally Missed The Bus!

Kids really are amazing.

In a conversation some days ago, sup33 mentioned what her daughter’s to-be school principal had said: kids are much more hardy than parents think they are. They have more stamina, more energy, and are more adaptive than we give them credit for. My own kids have proved this to me many times already, yet they still surprise me.

When I was much younger – not a child exactly, but growing up – I was scared of being left at school. This actually happened once, when one of my parents turned up a little late to pick me up – I must have been 6 or 8, or possibly even 9 years old. But much later, even up to the age of 16 or so, I used to have anxious dreams of being left at school. In those days, I went home by school bus, and I had a constant, though mild, paranoia of missing the bus. My recurring dream on this theme lacked the intensity of a nightmare, but it was definitely a worrying and anxiety-laden dream, and one that persisted for a while even after school itself – or at least the school bus part of school – had come to an end.

We started the twins on the school van ten days ago, just before we left for Pondicherry. I went with them for two days, and left instructions with their teacher, the van driver, and the daycare attendant that from the following school day, they would come on their own, unattended.

Then, the weekend intervened.

And we went to Pondicherry.

And by the time we returned and sent the kids to school on Wednesday, something got lost in transit between the school teacher and the van driver and the kids didn’t get on to the bus (or in to the van, in this case).

It was my last day of unemployment, and I had spent the morning getting their lunch ready. I drove to their daycare with the intention of greeting them as they got off the van, to ensure that they reached safely and were not unduly worried about the commute, and also, at the same time, delivering their lunch. I had just about reached the place with a few minutes to spare, when Amit called.

“Where are you?”
“I’m almost there, at their daycare,” I said.
“Ok. You have to go to their school right away.”
Naturally, thoughts of illness, accidents, and other possible calamities flooded into my mind.
“The van didn’t pick them up.”

First I called the van driver. He was unperturbed. He had thought they were starting from tomorrow. In any case, he was already quite far from school and couldn’t possibly go back to pick them up. So I called daycare, updated them, called Amit back, updated him, and set off on the long drive to their school.

I was tense – were they very upset? Were they scared? Lonely? Crying?

I knew that their teachers would not leave them, that they would keep them engaged and do their best to allay their fears, but… Just a couple of weeks ago, Mrini had been in tears fearing I wasn’t coming to fetch her, and I wasn’t even late that day. And just this morning, Tara had said “don’t go,” and clung to me tearfully, while her teacher tugged her away and assured her that mama would come early today to pick them up. And I hadn’t turned up! What trauma they would be experiencing!

So I drove blindly, stupidly, preoccupied with these thoughts. Narrowly escaping various catastrophes, I reached school at 12.45 to find… two perfectly happy, laughing, playing, children who greeted me with “hey, what happened to the van?” (or words to that effect). Not a word of complaint or a single teardrop in sight.

Huh. So much for all that worrying. Why on earth did I think that my childhood fears, which I had forgotten all about until now, would be their fears? They were in a familiar environment, they had their teachers, their work, their friends. One of the things with Montessori is that older kids – up to 5+ – are in the same class as younger kids (3+). The older kids get to stay back for an extra hour or so, so by the time I reached, the seniors still hadn’t gone home.

And then, of course, there are the two of them. Although that more than doubles their naughtiness and all the mischief they can get up to, it also means that each of them is very rarely totally alone.

I greeted them unconcernedly, as though my turning up was just a special bonus for the day, and we drove to daycare, and they were somewhat late for lunch but none the worse for it – despite the fact that they’d returned from a hectic trip out of town and had an extremely interrupted sleep last night. They both slept in the afternoon (thank goodness!) and were in top form that evening.

One good thing that came out of this entire experience was that something that would doubtless have worried me eventually – the prospect of the twins missing the bus – happened even before it had occurred to me to be worried about it. And once the worst has happened and has been handled, it loses its fear factor. I know now that if they ever miss the bus in future, their teachers will call us, and either of us, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing then, will drop everything and rush to pick them up. And until we get there, they will be in their school, with their teachers and friends, and they will be fine.

Still, overall, they are just amazing in how adaptable they are. They’ve just been two weeks in daycare, and that’s been interrupted by a change in daycare, and a trip out of town; but they’ve settled down with a minimum of fuss and are absolutely cheerful and positive about the whole thing. Tara had taken to fussing a bit when we dropped her off at school in the morning, but today she told me with great determination that she was going to go “quickly” into class, and she did – she waved to me and went off smiling!

I still have twinges of guilt at how much time I’m going to be spending away from them… but it’s worse when they make it so easy for you.

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11 Responses to They Totally Missed The Bus!

  1. Neeti says:

    I think about that all the time, how we spend so much time fretting about our kids, and what will be, and wont be, and they never ever fail to surprise us with their superb adaptability. We need to learn from our kids, seriously.

    Familiar story with the van! Happened to us once, but S called us in time (in a flap, and profusely apologetic!), and luckily I managed to call the van driver, and luckily he hadn’t gone too far, and luckily he agreed to go back and pick her up.
    And by the way, this happened on a normal day, not before or after a holiday, or when she had been away from school. She was in the loo when he came, and he just left! However, take heart from the fact that of 3 years (collectively between my older and younger daughter) of using the van, this happened only once! So don’t get into a flap.

  2. Supriya says:

    🙂 In fact, what the principal said and rightly it looks like was – kids are much more adaptable than their parents (themselves – not think the kids are). 🙂 Despite all this and reading about your experience, I am sure that I will react in exactly the same way when or if it happens to p.

  3. Hamsa says:

    That’s the good thing about this school. The teacher will call you if anything happens. I once had a flat tyre on day when even the seniors had left by 12. I reach at about 12:30, and my son was happily following his teacher around and helping her finish up. Even the otehr teacher had left. His teacher waited till I came by. But unline ur kids, my son was very upset!. even today, if i’m at scholl at 12:05, and he seems me talking to some parent, he starts his crying business! But that’s a different story!

  4. Sadia says:

    I was similarly surprised at how well my daughters handled their trip to their grandparents’ without me. I think the fact that they have each other does make separations easier on them.

  5. poupee97 says:

    Neeti: Well, our “once” is over, so do you think we are safe for the next three years?

    Supriya: I understood it wrong then, but somehow I prefer it the way I understood it.

    Hamsa: Yes, you do feel some confidence about this school that way – the teachers are so nice and so sensible.

    Sadia: Yes, I’m sure that each of the twins gets a lot of comfort from just seeing the other one there, or knowing she’s around there somewhere. That’s why the talk of enforced separation of twins in school infuriates me so much. If nature has given them this factor of comfort and security in each other, why do we have to take it away prematurely? It’s a subject I can get very worked up about… but I’ve ranted about it before so I won’t go down that lane now. Been busy catching up on your blog, though. 🙂

  6. Neeti says:

    Enforced separation? I have two girls who are two years apart, and I insisted on putting them in the same montessori environment for the one year that they overlapped, and I think we are all the richer for that experience. I think “enforced separation” is some kind of adult paranoia, if the girls are happy and secure with each other as friends, do we need to feel paranoid about it? We certainly wouldn’t be paranoid if they were similarly attached to a “friend”. As long as they are able to socialize with another human being, I think we have what we need. A, I share your indignation at this concept. I am very happy about the fact that my girls are each other’s best friends, they play, they talk, they fight, they make up. When the time comes, they will themselves expand their horizons, and reach out to other people. And even if they don’t, I am not going to regulate that aspect of their lives.

  7. poupee97 says:

    Neeti: I’m totally with you on this!

  8. Neeti says:

    Oh yes, and about the van, well, the only reason I told you about our experience is so you wouldn’t think that vans leaving kids behind was a regular feature at the school. You can choose to worry or not to worry, depending on how you want to view this!

  9. Sadia says:

    US states have recently been passing laws to require schools to honour their parents’ wishes regarding whether multiples should be in the same classroom or different ones. Many teachers are simply uneducated about twins, or think that if they know (of) one pair of unhealthily codependent twins, all pairs of twins are the same.

    I was unable to get through to one teacher that Melody and Jessica were individuals. Fortunately, our first teacher was extremely sensitive to these issues, and actually wrote a two-page letter to the new teacher when we changed schools, and has been sure that every time Mel and Jess move up a class, the teacher knows how to balance honouring their sisterhood with encouraging their individuality.

    Our decision has been to keep them together until age 6, and then split them into different classes. A college friend who is a twin made the very valid point that they may end up in classes together in high school. She and her sister were both musicians and honours students and attended the same university, so elementary school ended up being the only time they could have a “singleton” school experience and not be defined as “the twins”.

  10. Ruby says:

    Mine are also two years apart and still the best of friends, only one has more friends than the other, so the latter gets lonely sometimes. Since she is only one class below her sister, they are almost like twins.
    Does this also mean that less blogging due to employment?

  11. Vidya Sury says:

    Mika, we still panic if there’s a phone call from school or any unknown landline number, that we think could somehow magically be from Vidur’s school. He’s 12 years old, and quite a composed kind of guy; yet… I have been late picking him up from school 2-3 times – but he’s been absolutely cool, if a little hungry/thirsty. I somehow think that when parenthood sets it, it brings the paranoia genes with it. 😀

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